Michael Rabon & Choctaw
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1972-72)
- Randy Fouts -- keyboards
- Jerry McDonald -- bass
- Michael Rabon -- vocals, guitar
- Jim Wright -- drums, percussion
- The Five Americans (Michael Rabon and Jim Wright)
- Michael Rabon (solo efforts)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Michael Rabon & Choctaw
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve; bullet hole bottom right corner
Catalog ID: 2336
Namesake Michael Rabon and drummer Jim Wright had both been members of The Five Americans. When the band called it quits the pair elected to continue their collaboration in Michael Rabon & Choctaw. Rounding out the lineup with keyboardist Randy Fouts and bass player Jerry McDonald the quartet was signed by Abnak (which coincidently had been The Five Americans' label).
left to right: Jim Wright - Michael Rabon
While this LP isn't exactly rare, it took me a couple of years to actually track down a copy at a yard sale. Since I'm a big Five Americans fan (see my write ups on their catalog) I had high hopes for the collection. Probably a big mistake since high expectations are frequently dashed ... Produced and largely written by Rabon, 1971's "Michael Rabon & Choctaw" wasn't exactly The Five Americans Part II. To some extent that's probably a good thing. Musically the set could be split into two components. Rabon's folk and country-rock efforts made for what's best described as an acquired taste. While there wasn't anything wrong with material like 'Sad Jamboree', 'Musical Apparition', and 'Texas Sparrow', few of thees tracks made a lasting impression. An added problem; at least to my ears Rabon's voice just wasn't well suited for the country rock genre. In contrast he sounded far more comfortable on more conventional rockers like 'Heaven Knows', 'Country Music' and 'I Need You'.
Nah, it wasn't a great album, but song-for-song it was quite enjoyable with only one real-mis-step. It's also one of those album's that's gotten better over the years, witness the fact every time I sell a copy I end up going out and buying a replacement.
Rabon & Choctaw" track listing:
1.) Heaven Knows (Michael Rabon) - 3:18 rating:**** stars
The opener has always reminded me of a slightly roughened up Emmit Rhodes. Who in turn has always reminded me of a second generation Paul McCartney. What's the old math therim ? A = B, B = C, A = C ... Michael Rabon = Emmit Rhodes, Emmiit Rhodes = Paul McCartney, Michael Rabon = Paul McCartney. Yeah, that may have been a stretch, but I quite liked the bouncy rocker 'Heaven Knows'. Would have made a nice single for folks who like Rhodes, Badfinger, The Raspberries, etc..
2.) Sad Jamboree (Michael Rabon) - 2:45 rating: *** stars
Sweet and pretty acoustic country-rocker which again had a distinctive English feel to it.
3.) Musical Apparition (Michael Rabon) - 3:58 rating:**** stars
Hum, do I detect traces of Buffalo Springfield and Poco ... Probably the nicest of the country-rock efforts. Okay, In spite of the cheesy "music as a life saver" lyrics, I'll admit this was actually a pretty nice effort. One of the album highlights.
4.) Country Music (Michael Rabon) - 2:36 rating:**** stars
Yes, I noted there was a certain irony to the fact a song titled 'Country Music' was actually one of the album's best rockers. One of those songs that creeps into your head and reappears when you least expect to hear it.
5.) Mary Miles (Michael Rabon) - 1:35 rating: ** stars
Hyper-sensitive, heavily orchestrated ballad that sounded out of place on the album.
Yes there was pedal string guitar on this one, but the autobiographical 'California, Hollywood' was a fun little number which probably explains why it was tapped as a single:
- 1971's 'California Hollywood' b/w ' Mary Miles' (Uni catalog number 55289).
2.) Texas Sparrow (Michael Rabon) - 3:20 rating: **** stars
Another acoustic country-tinged number. Very pretty tune with some great harmony vocals (though the treated sound effects were a curiosity). A sleeper that grows on you in the same way McCartney's 'Blackbird' does.
3.) Down Past The Road (Michael Rabon) - 3:10 rating: **** stars
Sounding almost like a sea chanty, I've always loved Jerry McDonald's rollicking bass line on this one. It took a good song and made it great.
4.) I Need You (Michael Rabon) - 2:29 rating: **** stars
Kicked along by a nifty little Rabon guitar lick, 'I Need You' was easily the album's most conventional, most commercial, and most enjoyable rocker. It would have been even better without the shrill female backing singers. Regardless, this was the track Uni should have tapped as the single.
5.) Comin' Home (Michael Rabon) - 3:00 rating: **** stars
I hate to label anything as being McCartney-esque, but 'Comin' Home' had the kind of pretty melody that McCartney used to effortlessly toss off. The album's prettiest melody with some lovely organ from Randy Fouts. Shame it faded out so early.
The group released at least one non-LP single before calling it quits:
- 1972's 'Let Your Light Shine On' b/w 'Texas Sparrow' (Uni catalog number 55305).
Rabon's musical career then shifted into down gear. He apparently recorded some material with former Five Americans John Durrill and released an instantly obscure 1975 LP "Texas Till I Die" (Knifewing catalog number KRLP441). I've never heard it, but judging by the song titles I'm guessing it had a country flavor to it.
"Texas Till I Die" track listing:
1.) Let the Music Play
2.) Try a Little Hard
3.) Just for a Memory
4.) Two Sided Man
5.) Texas Till I Die
2.) Loose and Handsome
3.) Straight Brothers
4.) Dixie Rain
5.) Country Weddin'
There's also at least one solo 45: 'Love is Just A Word' b/w 'Two In One' (Zodiac catalog number Z5-1012).
He then moved on to work as an administrator in the Oklahoma school system and is a member of the Southeastern University Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Wright became a professional photographer living and working in Dennison, Texas.
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